History of the G.A.R. Cemetery
- 1895David and Huldah Kaufman donate land on Capitol Hill to Five Seattle G.A.R. Posts to establish the cemetery.
- 1896G.A.R. cemetery platted.
- 1922G.A.R. hires Lake View Cemetery to maintain cemetery. Transfer of Kaufman Interests (Turf Investment Company) to city and Stevens G.A.R.
- 1924Parks Proposes to provide Park Layout Plan.
- 1929Plan approved to lower 219 headstones.
- 1938Plan to Improve Howe - Relocate to Save Dogwoods.
- 1939$8,000 WPA request for Fence (like Woodland Park at Aurora).
- 1942Sixty Third Coast Artillery Requests Searchlight, Power Plan, Quarters request.
- 1952Maintenance concerns.
- 1955Because of ownership confusion, Parks asks Council Support for private maintenance.
- 1960Neighbors' Complaints about Park Maintenance of North Hedge.Lakeview Cemetery inquires transferring maintenance to Federal Government - Veterans Administration was only authorized to maintain cemeteries in connection with its own installations. The Department of the Army, Quartermaster General's Office replied that they could not provide funds for maintenance, but by a 1948 law they could furnish appropriate headstones for the unmarked graves of Civil War Veterans.
- 1969Parks recommends removal of North Hedge, replacement with hedge 30 yards back.
- 1976City confirmation that Cemetery Proper Ownership lies with Stevens G.A.R.
- 1996 - 1997Park is designated as potential off leash dog run - veterans groups and local neighbor protest, park must be adopted if not a dog run.
- 1997 - 2002Friends of G.A.R. (F.G.A.R.) formed - volunteers adopt park. Volunteer groups plant hundreds of daffodils, formalize headstone rows, clean out and thin hedges, begin staffing a daily flag raising.F.G.A.R. applies for Department of Neighborhood's Small and Simple Grant to Explore Options for Long Term Preservation of G.A.R. Cemetery Park.
Around 1895, five Grand Army of the Republic posts in Seattle established the cemetery for the “heroes of Civil War” and maintained it until 1922. Afterwards, they hired the neighboring Lakeview Cemetery Association, Inc. to take care of the property at their expense. However, the financial burdens were too costly for the diminishing community of old veterans so they presented their problem to the Seattle City Council.
The City Council acquired the property surrounding the gravesites, since the gravesites were deeded to the GAR. Stevens Post No. 1, and turned it over to the Park Department. The scattered gravesites were relocated to a central grouping, the upright headstones were imbedded in concrete flush with the lawn, a sprinkler system was installed, and trees and the hedge fencing were planted. Still, maintenance remained a substantial problem. Spending city funds on property not legally owned by the city presented legal complications and held maintenance efforts at a minimum.
An attempt was made in 1939 to create a W.P.A. Improvement project to service the building and perimeter fence, but it was unsuccessful. During World War II, the Coast Artillery was permitted to emplace a searchlight with a power plant and crew quarters in the park. This resulted in period of abuse where people dumped garbage, played ball games over headstones, and damaged the surrounding flora and fauna.
The existing police and maintenance crews were ineffective, so the trustees of the Stevens Post of the GAR attempted to resolve the problem by hiring a firm (Martin Pick Co.) to assist in maintenance, but in 1955 again sought help from the City Council. The request was tabled for study, including an attempt to transfer maintenance and control to the Federal Cemetery system, but the request was lost in red tape. In 1960 there was an attempt to remove either the gravesites or the maintenance to the Fort Lawton facility. No action was taken.
The Lakeview Cemetery Association, Inc. corresponded with Senator Warren G. Magnuson about this matter and he contacted both the Veterans Administration and Department of the Army. The Veterans Administration was only authorized to maintain cemeteries in connection with its own installations. The Department of the Army Quartermaster General’s Office could not provide funds for maintenance, but by a 1948 law they could furnish appropriate headstones for the unmarked graves of Civil War Veterans. This correspondence was in 1960.
Thanks to SUVCW for editorial input.